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Monday, February 27, 2006

Adventures In The Sony Tropfest 2006

The Sony Tropfest is said to be the biggest short film festival in the world, cos' of the massive number of audiences watching the chosen finalists during the festival. Sixteen finest Australian short films, broadcasted simultaneously to 130 000+ people from all over the nation. (I wonder whether we can get a tenth of that number if such an event is held in Malaysia) I went to the last one last year and was definitely mesmerized. Yet my joy was slightly dampened by the fact that I was alone back then (Guestblogger Justin had to visit his aunt and cousins).

I went again last night for this year's Tropfest, this time with a lady friend, Chings (Guestblogger Justin, being the president of the Japanese club, had to show the new Japanese exchange students around, I guess cosmic forces from the universe are preventing him from attending Tropfest). And the following are photos I took while everyone was getting ready for the show. Unlike Sydney (where the festival was cancelled for the very first time due to a HEAVY downpour, those poor folks... check out Konrad West's account here, or Ed Cooke's, or Ju:Femaiz's, there were numerous livejournal users talking about it too), Perth's event was pretty uneventful (it drizzled abit, but that was it). Here are some photos I took during the event (click for larger versions). The Tropfest signature item of the year is a bubble, thus all contestants have to incorporate a bubble into their works. Some make it obvious, some just mention it subtly.

Sony Tropfest 1

Sony Tropfest 2

Sony Tropfest 3

Sony Tropfest 4

And here's the video I shot whilst Chings and I were on our way to Sony Tropfest.

Anyway, due to Sydney's cancellation, the awards presentation, which is usually held after the broadcasting of the short films, was cancelled as well. And until now, the winners have yet to be announced. Darn. Anyway, here are my thoughts on each of the sixteen short films shown last night. Some spoilers included at my comments.


Summary: Struggling to find motivation, office worker Werner Brim is confronted with the most unusual situation, replacing the couch and coffee table in his office is a live audience, and they want to be entertained. My Thoughts: Pretty amusing. Imagine working in an office, with a live audience watching you, cheering when you, er, finally get to do something. I like the how sweeping and inspirational music score was playing while the audiences were cheering enthusiastically when the guy finally started making phone calls, over-the-top melodrama, until they found out his actual job. Funnier cos' the voiceover is in some foreign language.


Summary: Seven year old Billy encounters a couple of bullies on his way to the pool. My Thoughts: Unfortunately, due to the fact that I reached the venue rather early, and waited more than an hour and a half for Tropfest to start, I was feeling rather tired when this short film was showing, and I think I might've missed huge chunks of the dialogue, and the plot itself. It has something to do with the guy speaking out against the two chicks who were taunting him or something, but I can't remember their exchange. Good acting by the kids though.


Summary: A petulant little girl proves a tough crowd for a tireless mime artist. My Thoughts: The petulant little girl is played by a grown man. Which makes things really funny (and gross, like the obscene gestures 'little girl' does when unimpressed by the mime artist's amazing tricks), originally feeling rather exhausted, I was entirely rejuvenated by this particular short film.


Summary: In a stab-happy world, a sad outcast wrestles with his demons. The Story of Bubbleboy is a film about being trapped in the past and redeemed by the future. My Thoughts: No, this has nothing to do with the Jake Gylenhaal film, the short film's told in a voiceover, and it's entirely rhymed, which gives it a Dr Seuss-like feel. The guy wraps himself with bubbles, and it's funny. But I'm particularly taken in by the music, especially the one when the credits were rolling.


Summary: A single father has a unique approach to raising his two-year-old twin boys - pick a favourite. My Thoughts: Co-producer, co-director, writer and actor Rob Carlton did this film with his two twin kids (I assume the kids are his, since they all have the same surname). And it's absolutely funny like hell. Using the rule of economics to raise kids, rather having a definite winner and a loser than to have two losers. It's one of the crowd favourites of the night.


Summary: A perfect Christmas dinner is wasted on a picky snapper with impossibly high standards. My Thoughts: If seeing a wacko applying lipstick on a DEAD frozen snapper, putting jewelries on it, and then forcing food on its agape mouth does NOT disturb you, I have no idea what does. I think this psychothriller/drama's pretty damned impressive.


Summary: Tim has a problem. The house he lives in no longer obeys the law of logic. At times like this, there's only one man who can help. My Thoughts: Great editing made this film really quirky and weird, where the guy's clothes just change in different shots, and other different weird things happening in the house. All because he opened a letter with attachment. The man who could help is some guy called Norton. Pretty witty stuff.


Summary: A secret rendezvous. A loaded gun. A most unexpected arrival. Nobody said it was easy offing your best mate. My Thoughts: ... and that's because thought bubbles are appearing behind both of your heads. Filmed like a suspenseful action thriller, the crazy confrontation between the two gun-wielding men were made pretty funny because they could see, well, the thought bubbles behind their heads.


Summary: In a lifetime, the average meat-eating human will consume 10 cows, half a tonne of fish, 760 chickens, 37 sheep, and 42 pigs. My Thoughts: Also told via rhyming voiceover narratives, this really amusing animated dark fantasy has a bunch of meat-eaters gathered together to eat meat. And it's all kinds of meat, like, ah, dinosaurs (stegosaurus sandwich! diplodocus tail!), dodos, gorillas, dogs etc etc, creatures are hunted down to be eaten by a bunch of meateaters. Then they just started puking those stuff out, and all their previous meals just reincarnated and ran away. Kinda gross too, but great.


Synopsis: Even the single act of taking public transport seems to be fraught with peril these days. Especially if you're from somewhere else. My Thoughts: A guy left his bag in a public transport. Everyone else in the tram wait patiently to spring into action. Full of tension, and good acting from the entire cast.


Synopsis: On a lonely beach, a chance encounter with a fisherman is the key to a young man letting go of his past and embracing his future. My Thoughts: Dramatic. Beautiful cinematography and scenery, very good acting by the main guy, yet somehow, it didn't move me like it should, perhaps not enough emotional investment was given for the guy. I guess. But still pretty good.


Synopsis: Amelia finally stands up to her sister, and discovers its a piece of cake. My Thoughts: Could be a biopic by the filmmaker. But this seems like the one with the lowest budget, but worked well because of good acting and interesting storyline (entire thing takes place in a dining room, where a girl is growing increasingly annoyed with her annoying angelic and patronizing sister and the guy the sister wants to set her up with).


Synopsis: Rosie visits the local medical centre for a routine check-up. Unfortunately, it's anything but routine. My Thoughts: Chick has to open her legs for the doctor (Rob Carlton, in his second short film of the night) for examination, then things got increasingly awkward when the doctor's lightbulb went off, and he asked other doctors to help him fix it, while the chick has to remain there...


Synopsis: Australia, two guys, a small room, 63 deadly snakes... only one man at home. My Thoughts: I assume this is a documentary. Seeing a snake devouring a mouse is disturbing, and well, the screams and wails made by the cameraman were pretty damned funny, but I think would've reacted the same way if I were put in the same situation. Being in a small room with 63 deadly snakes, man.


Synopsis: A room askew and a meal that may never happen. My Thoughts: I think this might be made via stop-motion technology, with models and stuff. And its technical accomplishments are pretty damned impressive. However, the entire piece is rather, ah, abstract. A weird room with weird shit happening, and a dude trying to eat, only to have more weird shit happening. Has a pretty dark and morbid feeling.


Synopsis: To forgive is to set yourself free. My Thoughts: This one is absolutely beautiful, and is my bet to win the big one (or at least an acting award for the actress). A woman and her young son (daughter? can't tell) seeks her estranged elderly father, only to be driven away. Then the child ran to his/her grandfather's home again, and this time, the old dude blows bubbles out of the door, and er, damn, I suck at describing it, but it's seriously pretty heartwarming and awesome. Hell, I choked a little during the ending when father and daughter reconciled. But bubbles were utilized beautifully in this film.